Tanking huh? If you enjoy getting hit in the face really hard, really often. Good. You are in the right place. We’ll break down everything you need to know about being a Tank.
Tanks are both the spearhead and shield of a party. Meaning it is your responsibility to keep a fight going smoothly and your party alive. If you show them a good time, they will reward you with big Damage, free healthcare. Maybe even loot at the end. In any group content you need to keep the enemy’s attention, move it around and use your skills to make sure their big attacks don’t hurt you, or your party too much. Your healers will thank you.
Enmity, Aggro or whatever name it’s given, is a mechanic that mostly Tanks interact with. It determines who gets their beautiful face beaten in. For that you have to turn on your Tank Stance. Iron Will for Gladiator/Paladin. Defiance for Marauder/Warrior. Grit for Dark Knight. And Royal Guard for Gunbreaker. These will make sure, as long as you have them turned on, you will end up on top of the Enmity list. Unless the other Tank has it also turned on. This will cause the Boss the ping pong between you two, and your Party to hate you. So please, only turn the Tank Stance on when needed.
In Dungeon content, it will be enough to just use your Area of Effect (AoE) abilities to keep the enemy group's attention. You can pick up any strays with your Ranged abilities and you should make sure to keep them all in one spot. So everyone can use their AoE’s to get rid of them.
In single target scenarios, you should not move around unless it is absolutely necessary to avoid optional damage. Sometimes you will need to move them around, but always keep the back of the Enemy to your party. This will allow the Melee Physical DPS to use all their abilities with full potential and will make sure the Boss won’t cleave the entire party.
Some fights will require you to Tank two enemies spread far away from each other, or switch the Enmity one Tank to the other to avoid damage. You have tools for these things, and we’ll get into them later when we go over your Role Actions.
Mitigation, Mitigation and more Mitigation
On top of having to manage enemies, you’ll also have to manage their damage. While it is the Healers job to keep you healthy, you should assist them. The less the Healer has to heal you, the more damage they can do. And things that are dead, can’t hurt you.
For that you will have an array or skills that are different for every tank but they’ll work in function the same. These buffs will make sure you either take less damage over a period of time, regenerate health, outright heal you or even give you a temporary shield. Optimally, you want to cycle through them and always have one of these Buffs up, while the rest is on cooldown.
Every Tank also has abilities that will mitigate damage for someone else, or the party. So if you are not tanking you can still contribute to your fellow Tank’s mitigation. Again, means your Healer has to heal less. Same will also go for Party-Wide damage, a debuff on the enemy to reduce damage output. Or a buff for the party that will reduce damage taken, again your Healers will thank you.
Now that we have covered the Basics, let's get to the tools that every Tank will have by Level 50. We’ll go over them skill by skill with an example for every single one.
Rampart: This will usually be the first defensive cooldown you’ll get. Reducing damage by 20% for 20 seconds. It takes 90 seconds to recharge. You should circle this one in whenever you can between your other defensive cooldowns, make a habit out of keeping it up.
Low Blow: This is a stun that will stop non boss enemies (and some A Realm Reborn bosses) for 5 seconds. You can use it in dungeons to keep an enemy from doing damage. It will lose its usefulness later on by a bunch. But in some dungeons you will encounter heavy hitting enemies mixed in with other ones and it can be useful to take some pressure off your healer.
Provoke: This ability will put you on top of your enemies enmity list and give you a little bit of breathing room. You can use it to either draw in strays in dungeons that you might’ve missed or take pressure off the other tank. It is also necessary for some mechanics. This is one of your main tools for tank swaps.
Interject: Some enemy abilities cast are outlined with a red pulse, this means they are interruptible. So this is used to avoid optional damage.
Reprisal: Enemies around you will do 10% less damage for 10 seconds. This is another one of your mitigation, it is very useful for pulls in dungeons. It will take off some pressure while you get yourself situated. And it can also be very useful to defuse party-wide damage or heavy hitting attacks by a boss. Make sure to use this on cooldown, since it comes up every 60 seconds.
Arm’s Length: While every melee class gets this ability, it works a little different for tanks. Its main ability is to avoid most knockback and draw-in effects. Either to keep your uptime on the boss, keep the boss in one spot or to avoid certain death. But for tanks, it has an additional effect. During its 6 second uptime, when a regular enemy hits you, it will be slowed down by 20% for 15 seconds. Making it a great tool for trash pulls in dungeons.
Shirk: Provoke's counterpart; this will divert a large portion of your enmity to someone else, usually the tank. Use this to solve certain mechanics or save yourself from certain demise.
Introducing the Tanks
Now that you’ve learned the basics, it's time to pick your Tank. They are all able to play their part but can differ vastly in playstyle. Some being easier and some being harder to pull off optimally in harder content. They’re all worth a try, but here is a quick rundown.
Paladin: The Paladin has been a staple of Final Fantasy for a long time, and is the poster child of the current Expansion; Endwalker. It comes with a sword and shield. They are a hybrid between melee and caster. They bring great utility to their party, to for example soak damage for someone else or shield the entire party from danger or even a healing spell. It is easy to get into and fairly straight forward with its mechanics. Starting out as a Gladiator, this can be your starting class as well. It is also fairly forgiving to new players.
Warrior: Starting out as the Marauder in Limsa Lominsa will set you on the path of the Warrior. A tank that is very easy to pick up and has a lot of room for mastery. Swinging its big axe, it revolves around self preservation and self healing. It is a survival specialist that healers love, because they’ll make their job easier. It's very friendly towards people new to tanking and a mainstay in most parties.
Dark Knight: You’ll be able to unlock it once you reach the award winning Heavensward expansion. While it is a little clunky at start and takes a good bit into the leveling process to get its essentials. The Dark Knight will reward you with a big damage output and lots of mitigation for yourself and your party. It is a little bit harder to play than the other three. Since it relies on a delicate balancing act of managing meters, buffs and mitigation.
Gunbreaker: Unlocked at level 60 in Gridania, this one is for all the Final Fantasy VIII fans. In it’s core it revolves around a cartridge mechanic which you get to spend whenever you finish a pull combo. Not only is it very flashy and brings the big numbers, it also offers some great mitigation for both the party and itself. Since the job starts at level 60, you should get comfortable with the game's combat systems before picking it up. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be rewarded with a very smooth tanking experience.
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